Genesis 6:1-4, who are the "sons of God"?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by webdog, Mar 5, 2007.

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Who are the "sons of God" in Genesis 6:1-4?

Poll closed May 4, 2007.
  1. Angels

    1 vote(s)
    3.0%
  2. Fallen Angels

    10 vote(s)
    30.3%
  3. Line of Seth

    14 vote(s)
    42.4%
  4. Righteous men from another geneology line

    2 vote(s)
    6.1%
  5. another form of creation

    1 vote(s)
    3.0%
  6. none of the above

    5 vote(s)
    15.2%
  1. webdog

    webdog
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    Gen 6:1 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them,
    Gen 6:2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose.
    Gen 6:3 Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years."
    Gen 6:4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

    We just got done going over this in Church yesterday. My pastor believes as my father does that the "sons of God" were fallen angels. I believe they are from the line of Seth, as humans cannot cross breed with any other species on earth, so why would God allow cross breeding ouside of earth? Also, "sons of God" is in reference to Angels...not fallen angels. That in itself seems to be an oxymoron, as if they were God fearing servants of God, they would not be commiting the acts of fallen angels.

    Who do you believe they were and why? Scripture please...
     
  2. webdog

    webdog
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    Let me kick this off...

    Scripture alludes to the fact that angels do not have physical, intimate contact with humans.

    Mat 22:30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
     
  3. lbaker

    lbaker
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    I think it is probably talking about Seth's line.

    If angels are as different from us as I suspect they are, being made for the spiritual rather than the material realm, we would probably have a better shot at producing offspring with a tomato plant than an angel.

    Les
     
  4. pinoybaptist

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    the elect of that time.

    (pinoybaptist the roadrunner goes ziiiiinnnggg!!!! rocks and stones thrown at him crashes feet away !!!! crash!boom!bang!!!)
     
  5. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    Fallen angels
    Support:
    1.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]Job 1:6, 2:1, and 38:7 all clearly refer to angels, but not fallen angels. 2:1 seems to include Satan as an extra among them, not one of them.
    2.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]“Sons of God” may refer to those created directly by God, rather than those of natural procreation (Smith, “NT Doctrine of Demons,” GJ 10 (Spring 69): 30). This view holds that the Nephilim were the offspring of the union of angels and women.
    3.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]The angels kept in judgment for grievous sins (Jude; 2 Peter) would be these angels.
    4.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]This is the oldest view.

    Against:
    1.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]“Sons of God” as “angels” is used only in Job, and thus is a narrow base (Walton, p. 292).
    2.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]There is no evidence of angels being able to procreate (cf. Matt 22:30).
    3.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]Judgment was given to man, not angels. (Although if Jude and 2 Peter refer to this, it was given to both).
    4.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]There is no evidence of an angelic host yet contextually. This would seem out of place.

    Wenham agrees preferring “spirit” (p. 140); Morris, p. 165-67; Morris says this is “an awful irruption of abnormality and wickedness … that … could only be explained by a demoniacally supernatural cause” (p. 168). He attributes it essentially to demon possession (p. 169; see also Hughes, p. 125).

    Mighty men (taking ~yhiloa, as a reference to earthly rulers)
    Support:
    1.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]Psa 8:5 – Only NASB translates ~yhiloa, as “God;” the others use “heavenly beings” or “angels.”
    2.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]Psalm 82:6a refers to human rulers as elohim.
    3.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]The Nephilim may be either their children or their contemporaries (Mathews, p. 328).
    4.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]Could be a line of despotic tyrants, whose main sin was polygamy. They may have been considered divine. This could be from the line of Cain through Lamech.

    Against:
    1.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]The passage doesn’t speak of kingship.
    2.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]The passage doesn’t explicitly speak of polygamy.
    3.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]No support to take “sons of God” as a group of kings (Walton, p. 295).

    Ross takes a view of fallen angels indwelling human rulers (cf. Dan 10:13, 20; p. 182). “God, through Moses, set the record straight by confronting the mythological ideas directly: do not believe the gentile myths concerning the divine origin of the men of renown; in the end all must die, for all are flesh” (Ross, p. 183).

    Walton takes the view that these rulers were exercising the “right of the first night,” demanding “the right to spend the first night with any woman who is being married” (Walton, p. 293).

    Chosen (godly) Line of Seth – (Mathews)
    Support
    1.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]Luke 20:36, Rom 8:14, 19, Gal 3:26 all clearly refer to believers. Matthews 5:9 refers to those who have the peace-making characteristic of God. This would be a unique use of the Hebrew phrase “~yhiloa, ynEb,.”
    2.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]Follows along the motif of the two lines in Cain and Seth.
    3.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]~yhiloa, can be a “genitive of quality,” meaning “godly sons” (Mathews, p. 330).
    4.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]The Israelites are referred to as children of God throughout the OT.
    5.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]Marriage between godly and ungodly always resulted in disaster, but not necessarily this kind of disaster.

    Against:
    1.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]Requires the meaning of “men” in v. 1 to be different than the meaning of “men” in vv. 2, 4.
    2.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]Requires that the “sons of God” be Sethites exclusively, but not that the daughters of men be Cainites which is textually awkward.

    3.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]Doesn’t explain how these were mighty men or Nephalim.
    4.[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]Requires that the line of Seth and Cain be kept separate all these years, and that both retain their spiritual status of godly and ungodly.

    Walton points out that the rulers view is a social distintion, whereas the godly/ungodly is a spiritual distinction (p. 291).

    “Angels” was a common Jewish and early church interpretation (Smith, “NT Doctrine of Demons,”GJ 10 (Spring 69): 30ff.) This would lend credence to the idea of Jude and Peter that the bound angels are demons with particularly egregious sins.

    Bottom line: I think they are tyrant rulers.
     
  6. reformedbeliever

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    6.2 ‘And the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair, and took to wife such of them as they chose.’
    In the Old Testament the term the ‘sons of God’ (bene haelohim) always refers to heavenly beings (Job 1.6 and context; 38.7; Psalm 29.1; 89.7; Daniel 3.25; Deuteronomy 32.8 in the LXX; see also Jude 6-7, 1 Peter 3:19-20, and 2 Peter 2:4-6).
    But if we take that meaning here we need not think of it as a crude representation of heavenly beings becoming men to slake their desires. It is true that they thought these women were ‘desirable’, but it could have been for another reason, and that was because they were seen as presenting a means by which these evil ‘angels’ could interfere directly in the affairs of men, take over human bodies and possibly even regain acceptability. The thought would thus be more of occult practises, and especially demonic marriages rather than of sex. The Bible regularly covers up gross sin by euphemisms, and this is one such case. The writer is describing it in folksy terms as though it were normal marriage. But it is describing demon possession of a most dreadful kind.
    ‘Saw that the daughters of men were fair.’ The word for ‘fair’ means more literally ‘good, useful’ for some purpose. Thus they saw them as suitable for their purposes.
    We cannot, however, avoid the thought that the women were very willing. They were not just helpless tools. This interest in the occult was clearly rampant almost right from the beginning (so verse 1 suggests), with the result that the evil angels were able to take their pick. Thus by opening themselves to occult practises of an extreme kind, and especially to voluntary demon possession, these women, presumably the large majority, were being ‘bound’ to these ‘fallen angels’. Whereas Eve had unknowingly succumbed to temptation by the powers of evil, these women glory in it and throw themselves fully into it.
    There are a number of other alternatives suggested for the significance of the term ‘the sons of God’ which we will now consider.
    • 1). That ‘the sons of God’ represent the so-called godly line of Seth and ‘the daughters of men’ represent the cursed line of Cain, (or indeed the daughters of other sons of Adam). In favour of this is that it directly follows the genealogies of Cain and from Adam to Noah.
      But there is no reason why we should think that all the line of Seth were godly. Certainly, many of their ‘sons and daughters’ must have had descendants who perished in the flood. Nor is there any reason why they would be seen above all as especially producing ‘mighty men’ and ‘men of renown’. Indeed Lamech appears to be a simple son of the soil (5.28). Nor does it explain why they should be called ‘nephilim’ (compare Numbers 13.33), nor why such men should be able to have their pick of women anywhere. The fact is that by the time of the Flood the vast majority of the line of Seth were anything but godly and were also destroyed in the Flood. Nor is this concept of a ‘godly’ line being called the ‘sons of God’ (bene ha elohim) found in the Old Testament, whereas the phrase is used otherwise.
      In favour could be said to be the fact that God calls Israel ‘my firstborn son’ (Exodus 4.22). But this rather contrasts Israel as a whole, as adopted by God, with the ‘divine’ Pharaoh’s son and is not really parallel with this.
      A better parallel is perhaps ‘you are the sons of Yahweh your God’ (Deuteronomy 14.1). But again this refers to the special position of the children of Israel as those who have been delivered from Egypt, demonstrating their unique position with God. They are adopted by Him as His own.
      Both these phrases are very different from the phrase the ‘sons of the elohim’ where the very nature of elohim, heavenly beings, is usually in mind. Besides why are they not called the ‘sons of Yahweh’ here, as Moses does, if the godly line were meant? It was Yahweh they worshipped (4.26). It is Yahweh which is the name connected with the covenant, not Elohim, and the name Yahweh is used in the passage. And if the line of Seth were godly enough to be called ‘the sons of God’, why did they marry the daughters of men, deluded by their charms? Surely if the writer had this in mind he would have included a reference to them as ‘sons of God’ somewhere in the genealogy. Yet Seth was specifically described as being the image and likeness of Adam, not the image and likeness of God.
    • 2). That ‘the sons of God’ are Neanderthals, or a similar species, appearing as from nowhere and being seen as supernatural beings because of their size and therefore being given this name in popular parlance, and they, or their children, being also called Nephilim. It is possible to imagine the effect produced on the population if a considerable group of these huge beings arrived and forced themselves on the ‘daughters of men’, with no one daring to offer resistance.
      The daughters of men are then seen as intermarrying with them, producing huge offspring. This is feasible and would tie in with Numbers 13.33, the point being that the huge men there were seen as somehow connected with a similar situation. Nephilim might be thus seen as a term for the progeny of such alliances. Such alliances might well have been seen by the people and the writer as unholy alliances bringing God’s anger down on the them. One of the points later brought out is the violence which preceded the flood which might well have resulted from such an ‘invasion’.
    • 3). That the sons of God (sons of the gods) represent royal personages. These often set themselves up as being divine or semi-divine, seeing themselves as sons of their gods. Thus the idea may be that they exalted themselves and set up their harems, and took whom they would, whether willing or not. The rare word Nephilim is then accepted as meaning powerful men, then men of renown. The idea is then that the writer sees this as resulting in multiple marriages, a further downward step in man’s behaviour.
    All these theories, except perhaps 2 where they were thought to be heavenly beings, founder on the fact that the ‘sons of elohim’ (those of the nature of the elohim) is a recognised form for supernatural beings and suggests exactly that, but some nevertheless prefer them to our suggested interpretation.

    Dr. Pettingill http://www.geocities.com/genesiscommentary/genesis4.html
     
  7. canadyjd

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    The godly line of Seth (sons of God), as opposed to the ungodly line of Cain (daughters of men).

    The context favors it, angels can't procreate (as already stated), as well as the fact Moses is writing to the Hebrew people who just came out of Egypt. The "mighty kings" are also a possibility, and could be combined with the first theory. The whole "demon posession" theory is not supported by the text in any way, so must be rejected.

    One of God's commandments to the Hebrews was to not intermarry with the people of the land. These verses are a reminder and a warning not to take wives from these people when they enter the promised land.

    Of course we know the Hebrews did in fact take wives from those people and it corrupted the worship of Almighty God.

    peace to you:praying:
     
  8. EdSutton

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    Simply put, I believe them to be fallen angels, and are the same now imprisoned in 'tartaros'. The reason for this have been stated in other posts above, by far better scholars than I could even ever dream to be (not that I'm a scholar in any way, whatsoever), such as Smith and Pettingill.

    Ed
     
  9. EdSutton

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    Actually, the text never says "angels can't procreate", at all. It states "in the resurrection', they do not, so to speak. But the human offspring of the 'godly' and 'ungodly' humans are still fully human, and are certainly not "nephilim".

    Oh yeah! Peace back, as well! :thumbs:

    Ed
     
  10. npetreley

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    The Bible never says they can't procreate. It says they don't marry.

    Jude says,

    We know that angels can appear in human form, so much so that they can be mistaken for normal humans.

    I don't think it's too much to assume that these strangers who they entertained ate in their presence. Obviously, these angels were able to assume bodies that function like human bodies -- unless you want to chalk it all up to some illusion, and then you'd only be speculating with no scripture to back up your assumption.

    In short, it's not so far fetched that angels could assume human form and mate with human women. And Jude implies this is exactly what they did -- they left their proper estate and did what they weren't designed to do, or supposed to do.
     
  11. webdog

    webdog
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    You still have the problem here...
    Gen 6:2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose.
     
  12. npetreley

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    That's not a problem. The quote about angels means they aren't designed to marry each other. These particular angels left their own estate (decided to do something they weren't supposed to do) and got in trouble for it. (See Jude)
     
  13. webdog

    webdog
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    I don't see the text stating anything about only marrying each other.
    Also, if they got in trouble...they wouldn't be "sons of God" (good angels), but rather fallen angels (opposite of "sons of God")
     
  14. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    With respect to angels, in the Bible the phrase marriage assumes that sex and procreation will take place. So being unable to marry includes being unable to procreate. Furthermore, it certainly doesn't say "marry each other" in the Bible.

    With respect to the Sethite line, you have an unnatural change of referent for "men" in the context.
     
  15. npetreley

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    You're making connections that the Bible doesn't make. It doesn't say they are unable to marry, it just says that's not what they do.

    So am I (making connections not explicitly stated in the Bible), but it's pure speculation either way.

    Jude compares the angels who left their estate to the sexual sins in Sodom, where people went after "strange flesh". If my speculation is right, then this is a very appropriate comparison. Men were designed to "go after" women, but they "left their estate" and went after strange flesh (homosexuality). Angels were designed not to marry, but the left their estate -- and (if my speculation is right) went after "strange flesh", i.e., took on human form and went after human women.
     
  16. webdog

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    But npetreley, if they did that, they would cease to be referred to as "sons of God". They would be demons. The text states "sons of God" married these women, so they couldn't have been fallen angels when they married the women, meaning they wouldn't be referred to as "sons of God".
     
  17. Inadequate in Myself

    Inadequate in Myself
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    Without speaking directly to the overall issues raised, I would simply like to point out that the phrase "sons of God" is primarily understood by those who hold to the "angelic" perspective as a Hebrew word meaning "heavenly being," that is, it is the counterpart of "son of man" meaning "mortal being" (in Ezekiel for instance). In this interpretation, it is not understood to be expressing that they were good or evil, simply that they were not human.
     
  18. webdog

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    Does Scripture ever call demons "sons of God"? Unbelievers are alluded to being sons of the devil. I can't believe that demons would still be considered to be "sons of God".

    The Hebrew "sons of God"...
    H1123
    בּן
    bên
    bane
    (Chaldee); corresponding to H1121: - child, son, young.

    H430
    אלהים
    'ĕlôhîym
    el-o-heem'
    Plural of H433; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative: - angels, X exceeding, God (gods) (-dess, -ly), X (very) great, judges, X mighty.

    I don't see where the Hebrew allows for the understanding of "heavenly beings".
     
    #18 webdog, Mar 6, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2007
  19. Inadequate in Myself

    Inadequate in Myself
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    This is one of those cases where you cannot simply break down the individual words and derive a meaning. It is an idiomatic phrase in Hebrew to say something is "son of" is to say that their essence is what follows. To call someone "son of man" is to say that they are human. To call someone "son of god" is to say that they are godly (little "g" is intentional to hopefully get across the idea that we're not necessarily dealing with God in the idiom), but not necessarily in reference to all the characteristics of god - simply that they are not human.

    A similar idiom is "ba'al of" in Hebrew. To say that someone/something is the "ba'al of" is to say that they possess it. Therefore, Elijah could be called the "ba'al of hair" (2 Kgs 1:8) and Yahweh could be called "ba'al of wrath" (Nahum 1:2)

    As to your other question concerning demons and "sons of god" the phrase in Job does allow Satan to be included as one of them (though it is not required). That would be the only place where such a reference might occur.
     
  20. Inadequate in Myself

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    Maybe another point to help is the reference to "sons of the prophets" (1 Sam 10:5; Am 7:14)
     

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